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Island Brave battles to Old Borough Cup victory

Emaraaty Ana was the Sprint Cup hero as hot favourite Starman was denied in Haydock showpiece.

Island Brave (right) storms to victory.
Island Brave (right) storms to victory.
Image: PA

Updated Sep 4th 2021, 4:41 PM

EMARAATY ANA HELD the late thrust of hot favourite Starman to win a thrilling race for the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

The five-year-old gelding, trained by Kevin Ryan, showed his 40-1 second to Winter Power in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last month was no fluke as he took the Group One showpiece over six furlongs.

Art Power burst out of the stalls and soon set up a decent lead, with Supremacy leading the pack and Emaraaty Ana close to the pace.

Emaraaty Ana (11-1) picked off Art Power over a furlong out and set sail for home.

Starman, who was under pressure some way out, stayed on strongly – but Emaraaty Ana held on by a short head. Chil Chil was three-quarters of a length back in third, with Happy Romance fourth.

Ryan said: “He deserves it, we’ve started riding him patiently and the horse has come alive for doing that.

“I’ve had huge faith in the horse and I’m delighted he’s done it. He’s as good a horse as I’ve trained – his work in a morning is brilliant.

“All my team at home have done a great job, we’re delighted.”

The winner was introduced at 16-1 for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and Ryan signalled Del Mar as the target – for a race he won last year with Glass Slippers.

He added: “I think that’s where you have to go now.”

MEANWHILE ISLAND BRAVE lived up to his name to claim victory in a thrilling renewal of the Betfair Exchange Old Borough Cup at Haydock.

Heather Main’s stable star had not managed to get his head in front in seven previous outings this season, but a change of tactics brought about a change in fortunes on Merseyside.

Ridden from the front by Silvestre de Sousa, the 10-1 shot looked booked for minor honours at best when passed by the strong-travelling 4-1 favourite Noble Masquerade inside the final two furlongs.

But Island Brave was not done with as he battled back tenaciously to retake the lead and he had just enough in reserve to hold the fast-finishing pair of Alright Sunshine and Nicholas T at bay by half a length and a nose respectively.

Winning owner Donald Kerr said: “That was a fantastic – a great result.

“We dropped him back in trip as it was good to firm ground and that’s what he wants.

“I thought Silvestre gave him a brilliant ride. I was a little bit worried when the other horse passed him, but he fought back.

“We usually hold him up. I think this is the first time he’s made the running since he won his maiden at Lingfield (in 2017).

“This is his 11th win. We’ve had him since he was a breeze-up horse and he’s been a great horse for the yard.”

ELSEWHERE, ARTISTIC RIFLES LED his rivals a merry dance to secure his fourth success of the season in the Betfair Double Daily Rewards Superior Mile at Haydock.

Bought from Italy last summer, having initially been trained in Britain by Charlie Hills, the five-year-old made a winning start for James Bethell at Redcar in October.

Artistic Rifles went through the sales ring unsold at Tattersalls the following month, but it has proved a blessing for connections, with the War Command gelding adding to his tally with further victories at Doncaster, Ripon and Hamilton this term.

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Now running for Bethell’s son Ed, who took over the licence earlier in the year, he faced a significant step up in class for this Group Three contest and was the outsider of five at 15-2.

But given a well-judged ride from the front by Andrea Atzeni, Artistic Rifles continued his progression with an authoritative display – passing the post with a length and a quarter in hand over Bell Rock, with hot favourite Lord Glitters only fourth.

Atzeni was completing a quickfire double on the card after winning the opening Ascendant Stakes aboard Triple Time.

James Bethell said: “Ed has gone to a wedding in Ireland. He was rather reluctant to go, but I think his girlfriend made him, so she can get the blame!

“I’m rather emotional, funnily enough. I couldn’t be more proud and more pleased.”

He added: “It was entirely the trainer’s decision to run today. I’d have waited until next Saturday for a £50,000 handicap at Doncaster!

“This horse went through the sales last year for £5,000 and didn’t get a bid.

“I’d definitely have to ask the trainer where he’ll go from here, but I would think he might think about going to Dubai.

“He loves fast ground and he’s at his best when he’s making the running.”

EARLIER TODAY Kevin Ryan offered the view that Triple Time is a potential Classic contender for next season following an impressive front-running victory in the Betfair Exchange Ascendant Stakes at Haydock.

The son of Frankel was sent straight to the lead by Andrea Atzeni and comfortably shrugged off the attentions of Hafit and land an emphatic success in the one-mile contest.

Having made all when winning by nine lengths to open his account over the course and distance on his third start, Triple Time (3-1) took the step up to Listed company in his stride.

He moved strongly in front and pulled out more when challenged by the 8-11 favourite Hafit to land the spoils by a length and a half.

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